The first 'modern' landscape designers The American Frederick Law
Olmsted is considered to be the father of modern landscape design,
completing a series of parks which continue to have a huge influence on
landscape designers and architects today. Among these were Central
Park in New York City, Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York and Boston’s
Emerald Necklace park system.
Henry Vincent Hubbard received the earliest degree in Landscape
architecture as well as city and regional planning. Hubbard wrote many
publications, among which An Introduction to the Study of Landscape
Design in 1917 co- written with Theodora Kimball became the primary
reference for landscape designers and architects during the early part of
the twentieth century through to the 1940’s and became known as the
Beaux Arts approach. Central to their theme was that: • Landscape
design was to ‘create an effect of pleasure in the eye of the beholder’ •
Landscape architecture is a fine art • Landscapes were constructed
through the use of axes of provisional paths • Landscapes were either
formal or informal and classified as such • Landscape experience was
based primarily on a preoccupation with views • Creative adaptions of
styles from the past Many landscape designers however, began to see
the approach of Hubbard and Kimball as limiting and sometimes
ignorant of spatial experience, context and societal conditions.
European landscape designer Pierre-Emile Legrain made a landmark
contribution to modern landscape design with his 1924Tachard garden
in France. His design posed a classical garden composition as an
adaptation reflecting a modern attitude about spatial organization.
Although the only garden that Tachard designed, his scheme was
original in its deliberately inconclusive use of irregular geometric forms
and changes of level, which were designed to create varying tones of
green and to emphasise the textures of plants.
The design comprises a series of garden rooms, including an
outdoor dining area, in which the impersonal formal style is
juxtaposed against playfully off-beat, off-centre motifs. Legrain was
unusual among his Modernist contemporaries in his sympathy for
and understanding of plants.
The Tachard garden included a spectacular semicircle of red climbing
roses that he described as ‘a sacrifice to charm’. Fletcher Steele, an
American landscape designer produced an icon of twentieth century
landscape design at Naumkeag, Massachusetts in the 1920’s when he
designed the Blue Steps. Steele interpreted a classic Renaissance form in
a strikingly modern way.
A series of blue painted concrete arches, flanked by double flights of
stairs and sweeping Art Deco style railings, climb between the gleaming
white trunks of silver birches. The birches contrast beautifully with the
symmetry of the architecture. Water cascades through the arches
similar to an Italian water staircase.
Form and Function in
DesignAs in Modern Landscape Design, it is still
important that form follows function. In fact this is an
important maxim for contemporary design especially
in a home remodel or update. We are essentially
bringing outdated space, materials and landscaping
into the 21st century. Away from the straight or overly
manicured hedges or old uneven brick patios built to
only accommodate seating for four and a charcoal grill.
Contemporary landscape design has the use of diverse
concrete applications and finishes, full grills and bars
for complete outdoor entertainment and landscape
plantings that don’t require weekly hedging. A
Contemporary landscape design can significantly
“bring up” the functionality and value of an older
Today’s Technology in Your Contemporary Landscape With breakthroughs in concrete
as well as the wide range of availability in stone, tile, and stone veneers from around
the world, there are a whole range of creative possibilities for bringing a contemporary
warm look to the Contemporary landscape garden. Contemporary landscapes still
utilize natural materials but with new installation technologies to create
beauty, warmth, simplicity and clean finishes.
Plant Materials and design for the Contemporary Landscape Again the theme runs true
for updating and simplifying tried and true great design with the best of modern
materials. “By designing in bands and blocks of contrasting materials and colors we
create a symphony of color year round,” says Jeff Halper with Exterior Worlds. Accents
and pops of color are accentuated by beautiful planter bowls or small ornamental
trees. As everything grows in a beautiful garden of varying sizes, heights, colors and
mysteries for the viewer to experience prevail.
Other uses of space in contemporary designs include: • Outdoor rooms for living.
These living areas, in effect, extend the inside out. They also serve to create transition
areas that connect indoor and outdoor spaces. In this regard, this style is similar to a
Mediterranean landscape design in its use of the outdoor living area for entertainment
and use just as the home’s interior.
• Outdoor kitchens. These can be the center of outdoor entertainment. Outdoor
kitchens provide a natural gathering place and inspire our primitive yearnings. Their
design should complement the homes architecture, selection of materials and weave
naturally out into the landscape.
• Luxury swimming pools. When designed from a contemporary viewpoint, luxury
swimming pools are anything but the rectangle, ameba or boring tile waterline finishes
of the past. Contemporary swimming pools can also be combine with an outdoor
water fountain that eliminates building a separate water feature while adding
functional, usable art as part of the overall pools function.
Roof terrace to penthouse apartment
New York, USA
His clients brief for him was to create a contemporary, timeless,
stylish roof garden for them to enjoy and to entertain their friends. In
New York, space is at a premium and it is a treat to have outdoor
space to develop. The apartment is in a new-build block and built to
the highest of specifications.
The challenges he faced were, wind, cold, heat, noise pollution from
air conditioning units and other plant, as well as irregular shaped,
very small spaces. His clients wanted an outdoor kitchen, a dining
area and a lounging area.
The geometry of the building, the space available to us, and the list of
requirements led us to a design where each area was individual in
design, yet had links to the next area leading on from it. The materials
and design lines and lighting helped achieve these links.
Philip Nash designed the hard elements of the garden out of corian. This
meant that all elements of the kitchen, planters and water features
could all merge seamlessly and appear as one. The properties of corian
allowed curved bespoke planters to be molded for the lounge terrace.
This is the first project to incorporate corian in an outdoor environment.
Second only to Philip Nash’s Chelsea 2008 Show garden.
The main feature on the dining terrace is the spectacular glass DNA
waterwall. This piece, designed by Philip Nash, incorporates the DNA
images of the two clients (graphics created by DNA11) and displays the
image between glass within a steel framework, with water running
down the front face. This piece, spectacular when lit at night or with the
sun rays shining through, is also one of a kind.